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KHARKIV, March 16. /ITAR-TASS/. A crowd of 3,000 gathered for a rally in the centre of Ukraine’s eastern industrial centre of Kharkiv on Sunday afternoon to press for converting Ukraine into a federation. As an Itar-Tass correspondent reports from the scene, the demonstrators are chanting “Referendum!”, “Russia!” and “We are with you, Crimea!”
The rally backed a resolution containing a demand for calling a local referendum in favour of federalization. The resolution urges “the territorial communities of the Southeast, from Odessa to Kharkiv, to pool efforts for the sake of simultaneous plebiscites and the federalization of Ukraine.”
“Our city has been Russian and will remain Russian, albeit within Ukraine. We are prepared to live in one country, but on our terms,” one of the leaders of the association Civic Platform, Yuri Apukhtin, told the crowd.
‘If we answer in the affirmative to the question about federalization, this will settle inter-ethnic rifts that exist in Ukraine,” said the leader of the Kharkov branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Alla Aleksandrovskaya. She added that the referendum should also decide such questions as the status of the Russian language as a second official one and Ukraine’s refusal to join NATO.